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anonimoose
May 18, 2011, 08:31 PM
Shooters,

Anonimoose here -- first off, thank you all for taking the time to answer questions/provide guidance. I have been a frequent reader of TFL for a few years now, and while every forum has its share of...loose screws, the majority of expertise, insight and experience on here has been invaluable.

My question concerns the necessity to train for and around a manual safety/decocker. For background, I am a Marine stationed in Yuma, AZ. I am not an infantry grunt or a recon stud or some special ops commando -- just a plain-jane communications officer. Because of my job/position, I have sought to become very familiar with the M9 pistol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M9_pistol), known in the civilian world as the Beretta 92FS.

I believe that familiarity/good practice is far more important than the caliber/specific traits of a firearm. Many of you all agreed a few years back (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=299860), and I daresay most people on this forum would agree that a marksman who trains realistically and often with a .22LR is better prepared to use deadly force that the casual enthusiast who buys a .44Magnum hand cannon, fires off a few rounds, and considers himself "ready". Thus, I have grown very comfortable with the M9 and have developed quite a bit of muscle memory. Specifically, since I am/will be forced to carry the firearm on safe, I have practiced over and over again drawing the firearm from its holster and sweeping up with my left thumb to take the weapon off safe -- it's become an almost instinctual action. Moreover, I've become accustomed to (and learned to train around) the heavy DA trigger followed by the light SA pull.


The dilemma:

Because of this desire for familiarity/repetition of movement, I have refrained (with a heavy heart) from carrying (when off duty) any number of wonderful firearms -- from the Glock (DAO trigger, no manual safety) to HKs (the safety is opposite of the M9) to 1911s (SA trigger only; the safety-system is non-intuitive because I've gotten so used to the M9 safety). My rationale was/is that I didn't want to get used to one kind of manual of arms/muscle memory in my civilian concealed carry (like being able to just draw and fire as with a Glock), but then deploy overseas, be issued an M9, and forget to take the weapon off safe at the worst possible time because I didn't train for it.

My current carry weapon is the SW 6906 (http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Smith_%26_Wesson_6900_pistol_series#Smith_.26_Wesson_6906)...a wonderful firearm, but it's heavy, and any of the "modern" accessories that would enhance its defensive capabilities -- from extra magazines to frame-mounted lights to Crimson Trace grips to holsters -- are rare (the market just isn't there). Been reading some glowing reviews about the Bersa .380 -- yes, it fires a smaller round, but I'm willing to make that compromise to get CT grips (I think the training and deterrent value of a laser is priceless). Other than that, if you're committed to a "traditional" slide-mounted safety/decocker that you find on the M9...you've got other Beretta models (including the PX4), the Ruger P-series and the Walther PPK, and that's pretty much it (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=436027)!

So, after seeing that CT had a promotion (http://www.crimsontrace.com/Home/RebateCentral/tabid/599/Default.aspx) and made grips for the Bersa .380, I was pretty much set on the Bersa .380 as a compromise carry piece. Both sootch00 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPtogwY6kA) and GunBlast (http://www.gunblast.com/Bersa_Thunder380-2.htm) had very positive reviews. But then I saw nutnfancy's most recent video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEmF430-buc) in which he literally says that the ".380 ACP sucks", which seems to match some of the conventional wisdom out there that says that in a semi, 9mm is really the lowest you should go. So once again, like Natalie Imbruglia, I am torn.


My question:

1. Should I continue to insist on consistent muscle memory and train exclusively with the M9 manual of arms -- a slide-mounted safety/decocker (slide up to fire, DA/SA trigger, etc)? Stick with the third gen SW auto (no frills and all), and/or go ahead and "move down" to a .380 with the CT grips on a Bersa?

2. Should I abandon this desire to remain consistent and just get on board with the latest and greatest 9mm technology -- the KelTec PF9, Ruger LC9, Walther PPS, Kahr PM9, etc?


My apologies for the very long question. Thank you for reading, and thank you in advance for your counsel.

Very Respectfully,
Moose, USMC

Hook686
May 18, 2011, 08:58 PM
were you really a marine officer ?

anonimoose
May 18, 2011, 09:00 PM
Uh, yes. Currently am serving in Yuma, AZ.

Crazy88Fingers
May 18, 2011, 09:09 PM
If deployment is in your near future, then I would certainly stick with the M9. If it's still a while off, then you should feel free to broaden your horizons and start practicing with other firearms that may serve you better in your civilian life.

Then, if your number is called, you can always switch back to the M9 before deployment. If you've practiced to the point that it's instinctive, then it should come right back to you. Like riding a bike.

raimius
May 18, 2011, 09:14 PM
How do Marines usually carry their M9s? I thought M9s were usually carried with the hammer down and safety off.

anonimoose
May 18, 2011, 09:19 PM
Crazy88Fingers -- Thanks for that perspective.

raimius -- The third safety rule: keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire. I've never ever carried a weapon off-safe, or heard of anyone else who did so.

MLeake
May 18, 2011, 09:20 PM
Civilian 92FS / M9 is often carried with a round chambered, hammer down, and safety off.

Pesky military brass keep wanting military people to keep the safety on "safe." So, depending on where the OP is, it's quite possible he's been instructed to keep his weapon on safe.

Additionally, depending on the location, the brass may also want the chamber empty....

With regards to the OP, sticking to one basic layout (slide mounted, up to fire, DA first round) may not be necessary, but definitely isn't a bad idea. Like you said, it's all about developing muscle memory.

If you want something lighter, but want to stay with Beretta ergonomics, you might also look at a PX4.

kraigwy
May 18, 2011, 09:24 PM
I don't understand the disengaging the safety with the left hand. I shoot a Beretta 92FS quite a bit and disengage the safety with my right thumb, normal before the left or support hand gets to the gun.

I'm a firm believer that one needs to learn to shoot a pistol/revolver with one hand. There is something aways in the other hand be it a flashlight, doorknob, etc etc.

When practicing left handed I disengage the safety with my (left) trigger finger.

Just wondering.

MLeake
May 18, 2011, 09:31 PM
kraigwy, I agree with your philosophy, but my guess is your hands are probably in the same size category as mine.

Last time I got formal M9 training was at Fort Jackson a few years ago, and the Drill Sergeants were teaching using the off hand to manipulate the safety. I am pretty sure this is because a lot of men, and most women, don't have the reach to both hold onto the M9's grip, and still manipulate the safety with one hand. Quite a few have a hard time just holding onto that big grip.

FWIW, one of the reasons I didn't buy the Beretta .40 9000 when it first came out, despite my strong interest at the time, was that its safety was within reach, but just too stiff to manipulate with the shooting hand's thumb. That gun required two hands. I didn't want a gun I couldn't operate with one hand, so the 9000 was ruled out.

Unfortunately for troops, as you know, the gun they get is the one that's issued. I like the M9 well enough, but it can be a challenge for the short-fingered.

Seaman
May 19, 2011, 08:37 AM
Yo Moose ---

To answer your ?s

1. No, no, and no.

2. Yes....and of the 4 choices you've listed I would go with the Walther PPS.

Good luck with your decision.

TailGator
May 19, 2011, 09:48 AM
You honor us all with your service, and we thank you.

It makes sense to me to be consistent in your basic manual of arms, but at the same time I see no harm in "sweeping off" an absent thumb safety when you pick up a Glock or another firearm with a similar system. In your case, you might even consider it desirable. The position of safeties usually help you decide which way to flip them (i.e., it is kind of natural to flip down for frame-mounted and up for slide-mounted), although there are exceptions. It seems to me that it would take just a bit more presence of mind to switch between up and down than between up and none. I don't regularly do so, so I will let others address that issue. If you can maintain the discipline to run your thumb upward when picking up pistols that don't have a thumb safety, that would seem ideal to me.

I carry a Glock 26 that I chose in part because of the simple operation sans thumb safety, but the Beretta PX4 line is really nice and I have recommended that they be considered by friends and family members. That would be a very workable solution for you, and you are giving up nothing to anyone in choosing a Beretta.

glockcompact
May 19, 2011, 10:02 AM
Raimius
How do Marines usually carry their M9s? I thought M9s were usually carried with the hammer down and safety off.

Negative. Hammer down Safety ON. I carried the m9 exclusivly in USMC Security Forces for two years. Weapon was always carried on safe in condition one.

anonimoose, Your concerns are valid. I agree with Crazy88Fingers:
If deployment is in your near future, then I would certainly stick with the M9. If it's still a while off, then you should feel free to broaden your horizons and start practicing with other firearms that may serve you better in your civilian life.

Then, if your number is called, you can always switch back to the M9 before deployment. If you've practiced to the point that it's instinctive, then it should come right back to you. Like riding a bike.

I say go ahead and get that other pistol you want. Shoot it every once in a while but primarily train with your M9 if your near deployment.
I believe muscle memory is everything in combat. I would say you can learn muscle memory with two weapons though. Think of it like this. If you have two vehicles and ones an automatic little car that you drive everyday and the other one is a 5 speed sportscar that you drive on Saturdays. You don't have to completely relearn that sportcar when you get in it. (ie when the clutch grabs). When you sit in that seat and start that sportscar your muscles will remember. I feel this way with firearms too. When you place that "other" pistol in your hands you muscles will remember. However if you get four or five cars your muscle memory will not be as proficient. I use to own many different pistols. Some with no safeties, some with safeties, some with decockers, some single action some double. I decided to settle down on one platform to get the most out of it as far as muscle memory. So I sold off most of my weapons to by more of one platform. For me it was Glocks. I have recently bought a Kahr PM9 (which I highly recomend by the way.) But I'm trying to stay with the similarities of the Glocks as much as possible. However, I will say that I may not have known that I liked Glocks so much if I didn't own those other pistols. So I'm glad I did and I accept it as the cost of learning what works best for me. So I say go get that other pistol and then follow what Crazy88Fingers says.
Hope this helps.

glockcompact
May 19, 2011, 10:14 AM
I wanted to add something else that I just realized. In Security Forces it was not uncommon to have to run with the M9 in your hands. If I remember correctly I rested my thumb on top of the safety. This is how I held it, especially when running during drills. It was very natural and it insured that the weapon was on safe. A quick flip of the thumb down past the safety and back up and your ready to roll. So if you practice this with your M9 and then you get a second weapon that has no safety. Your thumb will have no where to rest and your muscles will remember that this is your "other" pistol.

Good luck,
Stay safe.

Mudinyeri
May 19, 2011, 10:28 AM
It's been ... a long time ... ~25 years since I carried an M9 as a duty weapon. At the time I believe it was SOP in the Army to carry with a round in the chamber and the safety on. At least that was what our instructors and brass drilled into us. Not sure about current SOP or SOP in the Marines.

To the OP, a couple questions:

1. How frequently do you carry the M9 and for what reason? Do you drill with it frequently enough that your draw sequence is truly muscle memory?
2. Do you really believe that strapping a bunch of lights, lazers and other doo-hickies to your weapon will make it a more effective SD weapon? (Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)

Now a bit of opinion .... Personally, I like SD weapons that are as simple as possible. Most people don't train enough with their personally-owned SD weapons that they truly are operating on muscle memory. That being the case, the fewer things to remember the better. YMMV

BlueTrain
May 19, 2011, 10:35 AM
My own opinion is that the average person has the ability to use weapons that work in two different ways with little problem, provided they are actually familiar with both of them. And Marine Corps officers are above average.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 19, 2011, 11:23 AM
Most of my rounds downrange have been with Hi-Power, which has a frame-mounted safety that goes in the opposite direction of the M9. However, I have quite a few rounds through Glocks, including some Force-on-Force. To date, I have had no difficulties using both Glock-type "safe-actions" with no manual safety and Hi-Power/1911 style manual safeties.

I do have difficulty with slide-mounted M9 style safeties; but I have so little time with those types of pistols that I couldn't say how hard it would be to overcome that with practice.

C0untZer0
May 19, 2011, 11:33 AM
Not if you are using an H&K P7M8

Seaman
May 19, 2011, 12:07 PM
Correct me if I am wrong here, but the HK P7 does have a manual of arms that one should be cognizant of.

For example, the HK P7 can be fired by 1 – pulling in the squeeze cocker and then pulling the trigger; or 2 – pulling the trigger and then pulling the squeeze cocker; or 3 - pulling the trigger and squeeze cocker at the same time. It’s a little more complex than one would expect….I might shoot myself with option 2.

There is still a training issue with the HK P7.

On the other hand the Walther PPS (or Glock, any flavor) is pretty much point and click.

MLeake
May 19, 2011, 12:40 PM
BlueTrain, you are right, most people can do just fine with different systems.

The question is, can they do just fine when somebody is shooting at them? Haven't been shot at (at least, not by direct fire, and returning fire against mortars or rockets is beyond the scope of a handgun), so I can't say whether having to remember which way my thumb should go would be a factor.

I suspect that it might, though, and I can't see why I'd want to find out.

I do know that when transitioning between types at the range, I've occasionally found myself applying the safety when I didn't intend to. At the range, it's no big deal. In an encounter, it could be a "game over" moment.

Skans
May 19, 2011, 01:27 PM
I don't see much difference between a double action only and a double action / single action. I don't use the safety on a double action / single action - its just there, so it doesn't bother me and I don't worry about it.

But, with a single action only, like a 1911 - those are quite different from DA/SA style guns - personally, I'd probably pick one format or the other.

Glock or striker fired guns are also different and require different training.

I don't know about most people, but I think after awhile, you know whether you prefer SAO, double action guns, or striker fired guns and then tend to stick with that format. I know myself, and I am completely comfortable carrying DAO or DA/SA guns. I am not comfortable carrying SAO or striker fired guns. That's just the direction my preferences have gravitated.

TeamSinglestack
May 19, 2011, 02:20 PM
1. Should I continue to insist on consistent muscle memory and train exclusively with the M9 manual of arms --

You can use what you want, as long as you condition yourself to use it properly with frequent and effective training. With enough repetition, you can easily condition yourself to operate ANY handgun, regardless of safety feature / location. Combine repetition with a frequent training schedule, and you will maintain the conditioning effect, and improve performance over time.

People have operational issues with firearms because they fail to train with the intensity or frequency required to develop and / or maintain a conditioned training effect.

Sleuth
May 19, 2011, 02:41 PM
Moose,
Thank you for your service to our country.
My agency used to issue the S&W 6906, which can still be found. The decocker works the same as your M9. During the 9 years I was the lead firearms instructor at our academy, we trained everyone to carry the pistol with the "safety' off, but to sweep the 'safety' up on every draw. Just in case something has pressed the 'safety' down.

So, I agree you can try some other guns, but always go back to the M9 and sweeping the safety up - something that can be practiced "dry" - with no ammo. Of course you need to practice from whatever holster you will use 'in country'.

6906 - compact alloy frame, 12 rnd magazine 9mm.

BlueTrain
May 19, 2011, 02:49 PM
The question of what you will do under stress is a difficult one to answer, to say the least. Probably different people will react differently at different times. More than likely it may depend on the particular mindset you are in at the moment, although that is a little hard to describe. Let us say, as an example, that you will not react quite the same if you just woke up as when you are fully awake and more aware of your surroundings. But even that can be over simplistic. Imagine for a moment that the telephone rings when you are asleep. Most people will have had to respond to that kind of thing enough to literally do it in their sleep. But that may not be a good example.

Strange things can happen under stress. I know most of you have heard of and probably experienced some of these. Time seems to slow down, a kind of tunnel effect kicks in because you are intensely focused on something and you can somehow make your mind think about very little things that you absolutely must do at that moment or else! On the other hand, if are not entirely sure of what is going on (like if something were happening out of your line of vision but you heard something), you could just as easily become confused and disoriented. I can imagine that happening if there were an explosion or very loud noise nearby.

Then, too, it is just as possible that you will do nothing whatsoever. Usually one's self-preservation instincts kick in enough to make you do something, even if it isn't the best thing. If you are just a bystander, you may not have the necessary impulse to react but just spectate.

Notice I make no reference specifically to having a particular problem with different handguns, which isn't to say it is not possible or even unlikely. The biggest issue in my own experience with regards to simply reacting is--the first time it happens. After that, if you survive, you will have learned about ten years worth of sitting in a classroom and you might even age that much, too. From then on you tend to take things a little slower.

anonimoose
May 20, 2011, 12:56 AM
Shooters,

I really appreciate everyone's thoughts. In all seriousness, the maturity, professionalism, objectivity and insight on this forum are second to none. The YouTube comment section this ain't.

Was thinking about this at work today (we had a long drive back from 29 Palms), and I've gotten to the heart of my dilemma. Most of us would agree with the KISS principle -- Keep It Simple, Stupid. The problem is, there are two conflicting KISS principles at work here:

Option #1 maintains the KISS principle because my civilian carry firearm is similar to my duty firearm, warts and all. Who cares if the slide-mounted safety/decocker is considered "archaic" when it comes to modern defensive weapons? I'll train on it until the trigger/safety is as natural as anything else I've done a thousand times, so (God forbid) whether I draw my SW 6906 in Yuma or my M9 in Dwyer, the manual of arms will be identical. KISS.

But Option #2 also maintains the KISS principle because my civilian carry firearm (be it a Glock 26, Kahr CW9, Kel-Tec PF-9, SW M&Pc or a Walther PPS) will be as simple as draw, point and shoot. No fumbling for the safety, no worries if I don't get my ideal high firm pistol grip with two hands. KISS.

Gents, if I was an infantry type at work or one of those true firearm sportsmen at home (the kind that run three-gun competitions and IDPA and all that jazz), I can see going with Option #2 and just training myself on two parallel platforms. But let's be honest, I'm a comm guy at work and just your average armed/concerned citizen at home. While both options adhere to the KISS principle, I think the ideal represented in Option #1 will require less time, money, and energy to attain. Since everything in firearms is a matter of compromise (especially in a concealed carry pistol), I have to accept that there are no perfect answers.

Leaning towards Options #1, but still deciding. Thank you all for adding to the debate going on in my head!

Very Respectfully,
Moose, USMC


MLeake

With regards to the OP, sticking to one basic layout (slide mounted, up to fire, DA first round) may not be necessary, but definitely isn't a bad idea. Like you said, it's all about developing muscle memory.

Sir, there's the rub -- I would agree that it's not necessary, but it's certainly a bonus.

Seaman, BlueTrain, Bartholomew Roberts, C0untZer0, Skans, TeamSinglestack, Sleuth -- thank you gentlemen for your kind words and your insightful opinions.

TailGator

It seems to me that it would take just a bit more presence of mind to switch between up and down than between up and none.

I totally agree, sir -- which is why I'm ruling out HKs, 1911-style firearms (like the Sig P238) and the Ruger LC9/SR9c. It's either going to be a M9-style safety, or none at all.

If you can maintain the discipline to run your thumb upward when picking up pistols that don't have a thumb safety, that would seem ideal to me.

Agreed, sir -- I think you can certainly train for this, but I'm afraid that after repeatedly sweeping up with my left thumb and finding no safety to actually sweep up against, my fingers/brain will eventually learn to just discount this motion (it'll turn into some half-hearted vestigial movement).

glockcompact

Thank you for your service, sir.

Think of it like this. If you have two vehicles and ones an automatic little car that you drive everyday and the other one is a 5 speed sportscar that you drive on Saturdays. You don't have to completely relearn that sportcar when you get in it. (ie when the clutch grabs). When you sit in that seat and start that sportscar your muscles will remember. I feel this way with firearms too. When you place that "other" pistol in your hands you muscles will remember.

Sir, I agree...but I think this level of familiarity requires a level of practice/investment that may not be realistic for us non 03xx types. Yes, I will practice, but I'm talking about using the firearm in a totally unexpected situation, like when one of our "allies" suddenly decides to start shooting people up (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-pilot-opens-fire-inside-nato-compound-in-latest-deadly-attack/2011/04/27/AFS6odwE_story.html), and I go from white/yellow to red/black in a matter of seconds and my heart is suddenly pounding in my throat and I'm fumbling to engage that little Serpa tab to draw my weapon. We comm guys don't get as much practice/situational drills with this as the 03xx Marines, and I'm worried that at that moment, my hands/brain will think I have the Glock 26 from home and not the M9...and I'll forget to disengage the safety. If I'm only going to practice maybe 100 hours a year (2 hours a week of live/dry-fire drills), most of it outside work at my local gun range, why not devote my limited time, money and energy to a single system, however imperfect it is? It's different for you MCSF types -- you run around with weapons in your hands all the time. I'm worried about the CO's next VTC...!

Mudinyeri

1. How frequently do you carry the M9 and for what reason? Do you drill with it frequently enough that your draw sequence is truly muscle memory?

Sir, in garrison, only at the pistol range, but while deployed, ALL the time. Probably not going overseas until 2012. And while I do drill with the M9 and the SW 6906 frequently (live/dry-fire), if I was honest with myself it's probably not more than two hours a week at most.

2. Do you really believe that strapping a bunch of lights, lazers and other doo-hickies to your weapon will make it a more effective SD weapon? (Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)

Haha, not at all, sir. Was initially intrigued with the use of a laser as a training tool to ensure that I don't jerk the trigger during dryfire drills (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KHb-dCdZVg) (my marksmanship coach noticed that I anticipated my shots). Then, I began drinking the Crimson Trace (CT) Kool-Aid (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oRUrNjBJIE) with regard to using the laser in low-light and fast target-acquisition scenarios. Even now, I wouldn't mount anything (lights and other doo-hickies) on the rail of a concealed carry firearm (only on a home-defense firearm), and I am only considering the CT lasers because they're grip activated (unlike rail mounted doo-hickies which you have to manipulate by moving the trigger finger).

Personally, I like SD weapons that are as simple as possible. Most people don't train enough with their personally-owned SD weapons that they truly are operating on muscle memory. That being the case, the fewer things to remember the better.

Sir, I agree -- what you said is Option #2, and that embodies KISS as well.

MLeake

Thank you for your service, sir.

The question is, can they do just fine when somebody is shooting at them? Haven't been shot at (at least, not by direct fire, and returning fire against mortars or rockets is beyond the scope of a handgun), so I can't say whether having to remember which way my thumb should go would be a factor.

I suspect that it might, though, and I can't see why I'd want to find out.

Exactly, sir.

FrankenMauser
May 20, 2011, 03:25 PM
Provide yourself with a high degree of familiarity with all of your weapons, and the operation of any of them becomes instinctive. Design and ergonomics don't matter.


However... I still avoid 'backwards' safeties (M9 and similar). I could easily get used to it, but don't want to have to spend a lot of time working with the new weapon. Free time (to practice) is one of my most limited commodities. I'm better off spending that time practicing with the pistols I already own, than building familiarity with a new one.

glockcompact
May 21, 2011, 04:32 PM
anonimoose,
I think your reasoning is sound. If you want to stay with one platform for now, well, I see more pros then cons with that thinking. I'm a big believer of the KISS system also.
I spent two years in 29 stumps ha ha. Alpha Co 1/7. Wow the heat. I miss running up the sandy hills in full combat gear. NOT!

Semper Fi Marine,
Brit.